54,600 Smiles, 27 Sellouts, 1 Unforgettable Inaugural Season
BISMARCK, ND – Bismarck and baseball. The two seem to operate in perfect harmony.
This season was the first ever for the Bismarck Larks, but the nightly turnout suggests that the team has a long-standing championship pedigree.
Out of 36 home games at Bismarck Municipal Ballpark, home of Dakota Community Bank and Trust Field, 27 of them were sold out thanks to the support from the Bismarck/Mandan community.
"We can’t thank our fans enough for embracing the Larks as their hometown team,” said General Manager John Bollinger. “When you combine a passionate fan base with our front office’s vision to provide the best fan experience possible, you have all the ingredients you need to create a sell out culture each and every night.”
In the Northwoods League, there is often turnover throughout the season. Players come and go, get injured, or report back to school. As fan favorites leave, some fan bases in the league become disengaged.
The Larks never had this problem in 2017.
Attendance at the ballpark grew all season. Sellouts kept coming. No matter who was on the field, the fans were there to cheer them on.
"The fan support is truly amazing and it means a lot to myself and it means even more to our players.” said Field Manager Sean Repay. ”Away teams come in town and are blown away by our ballpark atmosphere. Whether it’s Monday or Sunday, at home has been a special place to play.”
The numbers speak for themselves. In total, 54,600 fans have come to the ballpark this season with an average attendance of 1,517. Those numbers give the Larks the 6th highest average attendance in the entire Northwoods League (20 teams) and the 3rd highest in the North Division.
"We go on the road and there’s nowhere that even comes close to selling out like us, and we do it all the time,” Repay said. “Now we come home and these guys expect it to be sold out.”
While Coach Repay stays focused on winning streaks, General Manager John Bollinger has another streak on his mind – 1,177.
1,177 represents the most consecutive games sold out by a North American sports team ever, the Dayton Dragons. Since 2000, the Dayton Dragons have sold out every seat to every game ever held at their stadium for 16 years. While that’s a ways away, the Bismarck Larks ended the season with 9 sell outs in a row.
"Why can’t we sell out every game next season?” says Bollinger. “Why can’t we dream big? This is the start of something special and I’m excited to see where it can go.”
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The Bismarck Larks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 24-year-old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, 180 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champion Ben Zobrist (CHC) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM) and Lucas Duda (NYM). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.bismarcklarks.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Larks as your favorite team.